Thursday, May 09, 2013

PR's Internet of Things

 The media takes on so many guises once the Cloud is deployed. It might be content and interaction using an app. It may be a hologram on a Railway concourse and it could even be a message delivered via a pair of glasses.

Predictable pathways of information are changing. The physical world itself is becoming a type of information system. In what’s called the Internet of Things, the sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects—from roadways to pacemakers—are linked through wired and wireless networks, more often than not using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet.

If you look at almost anyone’s mobile today, it doubles up as a gateway to services from train times to weather forecasts. The screen full of apps is a manifestation of a physical thing that was once a mobile phone and is now a gateway to services and a provider of information to the Cloud. Your phone knows where you are and can pinpoint it on a map in a form of two way communication which you know little about and probably care less.

Today, there is no reason why many things cannot be connected to their wider environment. However, it is not automatic.

As Kishore Swaminathan  Accenture's chief scientist reminds us “Even among the RFID ( Radio-frequency identification ) based applications (which can be replaced by any number of identification technologies, such as magnetic strips and biometrics), there is very little in common besides the RFID tags themselves.

“In other words, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept, not a single technology you’d buy off the shelf.”

As a consequence, it tends to be a bit of a surprise when it enables something.

Often it seem commonplace. We already have TVs and set-top boxes that can be controlled remotely using a smartphone. Other household gadgets, such as baby monitors and hi-tech alarm systems, also benefit from similar connectivity to phones and other wireless electronic devices.  The BBC’s R&D team reveals, is has a proof-of-concept intended to demonstrate the UniversalControl system, a way of getting internet-connected devices to perform specific functions in time with TV shows on-screen.

The question one could ask is whether the PR practitioner will create content that is only enabled for specific physical media, days and times and only in the presence of a person or thing.

Newspapers are already there. ’InteractiveNewsprint’ is a research project led by the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and funded by the Digital Economy (DE) Programme. A newspaper that has interactive content, recordings and other interactive content delivered off the page is interesting. A brochure, book, poster and many other applications can be envisaged.They are developing an entirely new platform for community news and information by connecting paper to the internet to create what is believed to be the world’s first internet-enabled newspaper. By touching various parts of the page, readers can activate content ranging from audio reports, web polls or advertising – all contained within the paper itself.

The use of digitally connected Google Glasses, was proposed in 2013 to help an organisation recruit a an employee for a remote location. The candidates had the opportunity to sit at home and link-up with a person thousands of miles away and go on a tour, experiencing the views and listening to their guides as they went on a remote walking tour of the location.
The Internet of things is now here for PR to work with its 20th century partner, the print media!

Meantime, there are already predictions that more than 9 million Google Glass-like devices expected to ship by 2016 (IMS Inc. research in 2013)

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